Well, here I go having an opinion on something that I am not well informed enough to have an opinion about. I suppose that this is as good of a place as any to voice it, since it is my blog and all. I have tried to stay away from the Zimmerman-Martin trial because it is such a complicated and sad situation and I really don’t want to process it. I don’t want to think about it, or look at how I feel or believe. It’s too confusing and I don’t have the brain energy right now to work through the confusion. As a matter of fact, if this post comes out coherent in any way I will be completely shocked. I have not watched the trial, I did not read about the night it happened, and I have no knowledge of any real detail. What I do know is that, like it or not, this has brought up a national discussion on race. I think this is a great discussion to have in a loving and gracious format… however, this has sadly not been the case here in America.
My first response to this race issue, as I have scrolled through talk radio, twitter and Facebook, was a little Caucasian indignation. “I am not racist…racism isn’t that prevalent anymore… why can’t we move on from this issue?” But then I read a remarkably profound, intimate and insightful article in the Huffington Post by Questlove, the drummer from The Roots. If you haven’t read it, I have shared the link here. After completing the article, I began to think about my own beliefs about race… I mean really think about it. Being completely transparent, if I were walking down the street and a black man walked by, I would probably make a wider arch around him than I would anyone else. This and other truths and memories of my interaction with individuals of other races brought shame into my heart, because I should know better. I am a woman. If I try really hard, I can put myself in their shoes and while never truly understanding, at least I can empathize.
I have been to a car dealership alone once and only once. After being looked at like a juicy steak sitting on a dinner table and being referred to as a “peach” I decided it would be more prudent to take my husband with me the next time I went. I quickly learned that taking my husband meant I would no longer be included in the conversation. I finally had to tell one dealer to please speak to me rather than my husband, as I am the one buying the car. I have been spoken to inappropriately and suggestively by a boss on more than one occasion, I’ve had my butt grabbed by a stranger, I have been referred to as “darlin” by law enforcement. I won’t make the same amount of money as a man working in my field. I love to share the word of God with others, but am much more limited in where and when I can do that than a man… it is ok for me to preach the gospel, as long as it is in front of women and children. Etc. Etc. Etc.
The bottom line is that I have no excuse to have any opinion on whether or not an individual can feel oppressed by another because it happens all the time to many individuals all around me, including me. And I oppress others… whether intentional or not, I know looking back at my actions that I have contributed to the disease of prejudice. But the main reason I should be most ashamed is because I am a follower of Christ. I claim to be a disciple. I know better. I know that the creator of Earth created everyone on it and He LOVES THEM. He loves them so much He sent His only Son to DIE for them. I know that I was a self-destructive, hate-filled sinner before the love of Jesus Christ changed my life, and He loves every person I walk past, stand next to, or look at just as much. I know that in Matthew 22, Jesus tells us all of God’s Law rests on two commands…Love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind…and love your neighbor as yourself. I also know that 1 John 2:9 says “anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” Jesus preached the same message in Matthew chapter 5, and tells His followers in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 1 John is based on this message and Jesus’ brother James echoes it in his own New Testament book. So, I don’t get to be racist, sexist, classist, or any other “ist.” Because I claim to be His disciple, I can only love. I recommend the same for others, but I would most like to offer a bit of advice to one particular group. All of the upper and middle class, white males who are sitting in their recliners, claiming the name of Jesus while spouting hate speech and degrading opinions on Facebook and Twitter… go back to the words of Jesus Christ. Read Matthew 5, and PLEASE read James. Unless you have known oppression in any real way, this is really not your argument.